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  CSPAN    Today in Washington    News/Business. News.  

    November 24, 2009
    6:00 - 9:00am EST  

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lasting. we ought to at least get as much information as we can so we could be honest about the decisions we make. thank you so much. and it is natural to center our attention on the professionals who will fill our sunday afternoons. but, i think it is absolutely critical that in addition it focusing on the athletes who play in front of seasoned ticket holders, that we remember the ones that play in front of their family and friends and peers on
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friday nights. and the norms of the nfl for better or worse, become the norms of high school football players. and while contact and collision are inherent to the game, so too is certain code that comes with the game. that you go back to the huddle, no matter how badly you're hurt. that you play no -- no matter how badly you're hurt that full contact drills all of the time are okay. and that you don't need water, and -- sufficient basis when you prepare. what i'm getting to here, is -- whatever we traci and deal with in the nfl, goes beyond the concerns that we have -- with nfl players. and it goes to those young people who play on friday nights, and throughout our country. and while we can't do everything, to change the dangerous nature of the game, we want to insure that the nfl is doing everything in its power, not only to provide for the well-being of its players, but to set the right example for the
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millions of high school football players, who follow their lead. and very, very few of them will become nfl players. but they -- they still can be hurt and have long lasting injuries as a result of their play. and what they -- they follow on sunday afternoon. and so i hope that one of the benefits of today's discussion is that, there's a launching point to broaden the discussion on what can be done to increase player safety at all levels. thank you. >> thank you. daryl ice of california. >> thank you, mr. chairman and as a member of the committee and the member on steroids next door, i want to thank you for taking up the issue. i believe that when government oversight and reform began looking at steroids, with a -- a bent toward a union negotiation that had failed, i believe that we -- we didn't realize at that time that we could be as successful as we were in getting
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base -- professional baseball to get steroids out and to have testing and for that to fall down into college and high school ball, where today i believe we have done a better job of eliminating that on our young athletes. i believe at best, that's what we're going to do here. we're going to cause the ongoing union negotiations to focus on prevention, on dealing with, with the changes in officiating and we're obviously going to -- to see behind closed doors, the nfl deal with the question of how much do you pay upfront and how much do you hold pack for the long-term care of athletes. and i believe that it is appropriate that we in the judge that -- those negotiations. and because ultimately, there's only so many dollars and those dollars have to be allocated by -- by a form of negotiation in which we're not participants. but when it comes to -- to changes in the -- in the
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tolerance at professional and -- and college yet levels of -- of, if you will head butting and other -- other techniques that are growing and growing in their use and as a result leading to -- unnecessary head injuries, i think your leadership will be long appreciated, for the fact that -- if we make it an issue here in congress, it becomes an issue at the bargaining table, and it ultimately will make a difference in the next u.s.c. notre dame game which means a lot to my colleague and i'm sure to all of us. i thank you and yield back. >> thank you so much. last one on our side, last one on our side is hank johnson and the other side is bob goodlab. >> hank johnson of atlanta. >> thank you for holding this important hearing. i'm glad this committee has taken an opportunity to look at how football and head injuries
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has the potential to affect one's quality of life. and today we will hear testimony from several witnesses who will discuss the necessity of independent research as well as the importance of incorporating any findings linking concussion and conknitive damage into -- into preventive racquets. failing to have research that is independent could easily miss lead the public into underestimating the serious impact of football head injuries. and in the long run, the old mantra of perseverance has the dangerous trickle down effect of influencing, over a million children who play high school football, and -- the thousands who play, play, and a thousand, that are injury idea every year. walking off the pain as it is called, in an nfl game turns
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into, walking it off, in a little league game. as young children often encouraged by parents and coaches, attempt to imitate what they view as the noble behavior of their football heroes. and gladiators. and this behavior is clearly dangerous and a reu.s.al to recognize and respond to the danger is -- reckless, and irresponsible. not only are the direct impacts of these head injuries dangerous, the trickle down effects on high school and college players are very real and can be fatal, as we will hear today. i look forward to hearing the witness' testimony, and -- on this very important and urgent necessity. to -- to, to -- to conduct an independent study on the cog knitive impact of football head injuries, and the legal
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ramifications of this brain damage. i think the chairman again for allowing me to make an opening. and you go back to balance of my time. >> thank you. >> and senior member of the judiciary committee from virginia, bob goodlat. scry want to take the opportunity to welcome ticky barber, a star of the giants now retired who hails from my hometown of roanoke, virginia and who will be testifying on the second panel i believe and can share a lot with us. he and his brother rondy not only were great stars in the nfl but also, at the university of virginia and -- prior to that, in -- in the city of roanoke in -- in football played there. and -- and in high school. and so they could share this perspective with us, at each level of competition. and i also -- want to note that the great work that he has done
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in promoting football and -- recreation and athletics in general. he and his brother have -- have sponsored camps and other activities and i have seen first hand their great passion for -- for our young people. and i also want to associate myself with the remarks of the gentleman from california and -- as well, the ranking member. i share the concern about some of the practices that take place in football and i think this is a great opportunity for us to learn more. and to shine a spotlight on this issue, but i also associate myselfs with the remarks of mr. smith, in saying that -- while we did want to pay close attention to what is going on here, i do not think the congress should inject itself into the negotiations between the nfl and its players and nor do i think that -- that as some have proposed here in the congress, the congress should engage in -- in legislation that would allow or prohibit certain
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types of plays from taking place and in high school or college or -- or -- major league athletics, quite frankly, that is something that -- should be left to other people who are in better places in better positions around the country to make those decidings. and we here, the amateur quarterbacks on the house judiciary committee should not take up -- that kind of micro management of american athletics. i thank you, mr. chairman for -- for having this hearing and allowing us to learn more about the issue. >> of course we would never do anything like that. we have a -- a distinguished member of congress -- the -- the founder and chair of the congressional brain injury task force, and bill pass cell, he's been at all of our hearings, and we sometimes thinks he's a
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member of the judiciary committee. we like him to begin this discussion today. we welcome you back again to the committee, mr. paskarel. all of the members with an opening statement, we'll take it into the record and welcome you again. before us. >> thank you, chairman coniers and ranking member smith, members of the committee for having me here to speak on a very important topic of brain injury, it has become part of my life. literally. mr. chairman you did a great job in bringing together a wide array of experts to discuss what can be a difficult and very controversial topic. and these wounds play be invisible but the consequences are very real. you have taken a stand to insure that these consequences are
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addressed. as cofounder and cochair of the congressional brain injury task force which is comprised of over 130 congressional members from both sides of the aisle. and since its founding in 2001, it is the task force mission to expand the understanding and public awareness of brain injury. mr. tcharme, mr. ranking member, educating members and the general population, has been the most difficult effort of this task force. and in recent years, the task force has taken a greater focus on brain injuries that have become the signature injury of the iraq and afghanistan war. and it is estimated that as many as 20% of soldiers returning from iraq and afghanistan have sustained a brain injury. and the brain injuries of our
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soldiers have spurred congress to make unprecedented investments in brain injury research. research that will benefit soldiers, and civilians alike for years to come, and we have done this in a bipartisan fashion. and the same way that we gained greater understanding and research from the brain injuries of our soldiers, we should also take this opportunity to learn from the injurys of professional athletes. the task force placed considerable attention on issue of, so called mild brain injuries. and specifically on -- on concussions, which aif he can everyone from our soldiers in the battlefield to our children who play on various sports fields. and in fact, the task force held a pam discussion that featured two of your witnesses today.
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and dr. tucker who is a team physician of the baltimore ravens and mr. nowitzki who is the director for the center for the study of traumatic brain injury. and these discussions in the growing number of studies like the one commissioned by the national football league open our eyes to the implications of head injuries. unfortunately, these consequences hit chose to home. and on october 16th, 2008, ryan doherty, a 16-year-old from mont clair new jersey tragically died from a brain hemorrhage after returning to play football without fully recovering from a concussion sustained earlier in the season. i hope you understand what i'm laying before this committee. in the latter panel, you will hear from the story, of the
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untimely death of another young athlete. and that's will benson. please listen carefully so that we can work together and do something about preventing these things from happening. and these stories are mountain unique to the young men. and according to the centers for disease control, and prevention, as many as 3.8 million concussions related to sports and recreation are estimated to occur each year. and after sustaining one concussion, an athlete becomes as much as four to six times more likely to sustain a second concussion. i also want to point out that recent studies show that girls play be at higher risk for concussions and face longer recovery times, clearly, this is a problem that that impacts all children, in fact, mr. chairman, it is startling to see the
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numbers within a sport that we usually don't associate with, with problems of brain injury, and soccer, and -- there are -- i have never seen a soccer game within anybody wearing any kind o#@@@@@@$@ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ bbh 41% of concussions, high school and the heats play be returning to play too soon. and i would suspect that when we look at this further, when the nfl does its studies, that that will be centerpiece for whatever
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we're going to do in the future. and many colleges of professional athletic associations, including the nfl, have all adopted guidelines for the management of concussion. however,, much of this information has not been -- has not made its way to our local middle schools or high school. i think that's imperative. this is serious business, when you see how many of these concussions are taking place and how many children are injeopardy of losing their lives. and in response to the growing problem, last november, i introduced the concussion treatment and care tools act, better known as the contact act, with todd plats who is the leading republican in the task force, he's -- cochair with me. and early in 2010, we expect that this bill will be heard. the contact act is designed to provide our schools and coaches with the tools they need to insure that student athletes
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receive the proper care for concussions, regardless of the sport that they play. because varied and conflicting concussion management guidelines, have caused confusion, the contact act provides for the establishment of a consensus, set of guidelines that work for schools by bringing together a wide range of experts. and this bill also incentives the adoption of guidelines by scoose to insure that student and the lees receive the proper care and are given adequate time to recuperate before they are returned to play. and need i say that it doesn't matter how young or how old you are, or what sports you play, or whether you play professional football, this should be a guiding principle of our research. and 2006, i worked at the brain
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injury association of new jersey, to provide grants to new jersey schools, for the purchase of these technologies. and that are available, the contact act provides funds for the adoption of these technologies and our nation's middle and high schools. and if we're seeking the kinds of tangible, long-term consequences of brain injuries, as revealed by recent studies of nfl players, you have state-of-the-art equipment and access to the best care available, then we have to consider what this means for our young athletes. and because damage to a maturing brain can be catastrophic, it is even more important to insure that we understand these consequences and that the proper care is provided to young athletes. i'm happy to report this morning, i just received it, that -- that both the national football league and the national football league players'
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association have endorsed the contact act. and the letter is before me. and -- and if anyone cares to read it. >> we'll accept it into the record. >> thank you. >> and we're encouraging young people and i'll be closing. >> and to be healthy athletes. and they embrace ideas like and doing their pest. in this congress, must do everything it can to protect them, as they participate in sports. and that is what we call fair play. it is my hope that this hearing will generate a national conversation, spur innovation and equipment, and lead to action regarding brain injury, in the implications that these findings have, for and the heats of all ages, male and female, in all sports. and i thank you again mr. chairman, mr. ranking member, for holding this important hearing and i would fladly answer any questions if there are any. >> there are plenty, but we're
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not going to go into it today but we do welcome your -- e your coming with a -- with us again, and the work that you and your caucus is doing in this regard. so, we thank you so much bill, for kicking us off. >> thank you. >> the first panel consists of merril hodge and george martin and david david greer and robert cantu and dr. andrew tucker and dr. gay colverhouse and mr. smith and the commissioner, of the national football league, roger goodell. we welcome you all. and urge you to take your seats. and --
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the current commissioner of the national football league is also the son of senator charles goodell, wo was both a member of congress and a united states senator. roger goodell played football himself in college. and he's -- been with the -- with the -- with the national football league for many years. . .
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>> thank you, mr. chairman. ranking members met, and members of the committee, i submitted a false statement and ask it be included in your records. -- a full statement and ask it be included in your records. i can think of no issue to which i have devoted as much time and attention at -- then the help of nfl players, particularly retired players. i want to review what we've done in the past years to make sure -- to show what we have done. since i became commissioner, we've made a wide range of improvements in both benefits and administration of the disability plan. we've doubled the minimum benefit and lengthen the time within which players can provide -- apply for benefits. we obtained a new independent director. we have simplified the process for applicants and their
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families. each of these changes was made at our initiative. as we proceed did -- preceded the current round of collective bargaining, we look for to current improvements in the plan. with a plan that provides a $88,000 for each former player and his family to as dementia or alzheimer's. those players do not need to show that their condition is related to football. we have developed and funded new bethel benefits for retirees, including cardiovascular and profit -- prostate cancer screening, assisted living are arrangements, and discounts for prescription drugs. retirements -- retirees are eligible at no cost to themselves. in each successive collective bargaining since 1983, we have improved this and we want that to continue. as we negotiate for a new
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agreement, the clubs have identified specific priorities and we look forward to discussing the proposals with the union. through these and other benefits, retired players will receive more than $100 million in 2009, and i have committed to our retirees and our repeat that commitment today that we will not reduce or eliminate funding for these benefits based on the status of our collective bargaining agreement, and we will continue to accept new applications for disability for 88 plan benefits. with also tried to understand the need for our retirees and their families. i've met with hundreds of them across the country. we had a phone survey which dr. weir will discuss. we are actively follow up with the 56 players to report may a look -- memory problems. we know that concussions are a serious matter and that they will require special attention
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and treatment. i have been clearer, medical considerations must always come first. decisions regarding treatment of players with concussions and when they can resume play must be made by doctors and doctors alone. we are changing the culture of our game for the better. again, it is important to look at what we have done. in addition to research that has led to better equipment, we have made numerous changes in tactics that lead to concussions. we took a number of steps with the active participation of the medical director spirit we held an open medical conference on concussion. many of the doctors here participated and share their findings. we develop new educational material for families and their players -- players and their families. it reinforces a clear trend
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toward increasingly conservative care. the nflpa and i jointly communicated these initiatives to our coaches, doctors, and trainers, and the reports were widely publicized. we look for to continuing collaboration. i met with dr. cantu in boston. bake in a discussion, i have asked john mackey, a special adviser to me, to work with a group of coaches to identify new practice techniques that have been used in the past reduce the risk of head trauma outside of the games themselves. we must continue to work from and base our decisions on science. but we cannot stand by why research continues. we will continue to have a singular focus on player safety and do all that we can do equipment roles -- equipment changes, rules, education and medical care to make the game as safe as possible.
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we will also support all manner of ongoing research. one outcome of my discussion with dr. cantu is that i expect to announce nfl research into cte. we understand that our example extends to young athletes. we of the street and material on concussions development -- developed by the cdc to 9000 youth programs across the country. and the nfl web site visited by some many people contains a wealth of information about concussions and other health and safety issues. we will continue to do more to disseminate information and to emphasize safe and fair play. in conclusion, mr. chairman, our goal is continue to make our game as safe as possible for those who love to play it and to give our retirees the support and respect they deserve. thank you. dollars thank you very much, mr.
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commissioner. our next witness is the attorney demaurice smith, who did his thing and track and field and went on to law school, university of virginia law school, worked in the u.s. attorney's office, served under eric holder when he was that the deputy attorney general, as a trial lawyer, was president of the assistant united states attorney association, and has received many awards. we welcome you and we have your statement and we encourage you to expand on it in the time that you have. >> yes, sir. good morning, mr. chairman 3 ranking member smith, members of
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congress, thank you very much for the opportunity to testify this morning. i also like to take the time to welcome and thank miss sylvia maxine, wife of john mackey, as well as mr. would, and other former players in attendance. i welcome each and every one of them and thank them for their attendance today. as executive director, my number one priority is to protect those who play and have played this game. there is no interest > their help and their safety. let me say this again. the safety of our players is paramount. mr. chairman, you in this committee deserves immense credit and appreciation for consistently being -- bringing this issue of concussions, head trauma, and safety to the forefront. this committee and its hearing will be a turning point on this issue. my hope is that this day will
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serve as a marker, denoting the nejd that we're committing ourselves to finding the right answer. it will influence not only this game at the professional level, but the one that so many of us love for our players in college, high school, and in youth football. @@@@@@@ to men like john mackey and brent boyd, to men like mr., and the families like mike webster
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and underwater, and to those organizations that stand with us, i commit and we commit this is our primary mission. we will not fail them. i will not fail them. but myself and the current and retired players of the national football league are committed to getting this right. i was elected by the board of player representatives in march of this year. since that time we've taken the following steps to address this issue. in may 2009, we created the nfl players concussion and traumatic brain injury committee. it addressed two critical issues -- that diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of concussions and tv guide and active players, and the long term, cumulative effects of tv guide in nfl players -- and tbi in
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active players. how these conditions can be reduced for eliminated. this committee will act as a superconductor of current and future studies and is charged -- to get the right -- to get the answer right. two weeks ago, i met with all the chapter presidents and steering committee members who represent the retired players of the national football league. this 40-person congress of former players that represent and make up the nfl retired players association is an organization with over 25 years of history. at that meeting, they all embrace the creation of this committee. they join our call to have the national football league release all aggregate medical information that has been collected over the years to benefit both current and retired players. third, several players have
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dedicated their bodies to medical science in the effort to provide researchers with the best informations, to aid those that will play this game in the future. this body of retired players also had several players who were willing to do the same thing. not only to help the players who are playing this game today, but as they have done in the past, to stand up for the people who will play this game tomorrow, because they know that it will be their sons, it will be their daughters who are playing sports that will benefit from this research. for the first time ever, the players association's medical director is present at every meeting, including collective bargaining meetings that deal with player health and safety. he will chair the players tbi committee. finally, mr. chairman, to everyone here, to the retired players, to those who are
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watching us across the country, the players of the national football league will not bargain for medical care. we will not bargain for health and safety. we will not bargain for basic provisions of the law as patients. we will continue to work with the leak, but medical care is not and will never be just a collective bargaining issue. while all players understand the professional football is a violent game, we must do our best to keep them informed of the games potential consequences. yes, it is true the professional football players are the best, most well conditioned athletes in the world, but even those blessed with tremendous athletic gifts are vulnerable to severe injuries. we must know and embrace all of the medical data to prevent, treat, and manage the long- lasting effects of these injuries. mr. chairman, i welcome any
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questions, and am prepared to submit any other in affirmation you may request, and happy to be here today. >> thank you, attorneys met. our next witness is the daughter of the late hugh culverhouse, the owner of the tampa bay buccaneers. dr. gay culverhouse, she has an inmate and a doctorate in education from teachers college, columbia university. while her father was on of the buccaneers she served in administrative roles within the team and eventually became its president. she is in the process of concluding her work on a book entitled "violence -- the underbelly of the national football league," which was
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prompted by learning about the deteriorating health of her former players who serve for from concussions. -- who suffered from concussions. she has received many degrees and honors and i am very happy to have her here before us today. welcome. dollars hit the button. -- hit the button. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you, committee, for giving me the opportunity to address you today. >> pull it closer. >> i will just deal. -- yell. my father was awarded the national football league expansion team. from that point on, i have been intimately involved ago. the years i was at the
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university of florida, steve spurrier was the heisman trophy award winner. i am the grandmother of six children and i feel like these people's grandmothers here, because i had been involved in football for so long. the one thing that i would bring to your attention that i think that i have a unique perspective on his -- mr. goodell spoke to the medical aspects and letting the doctors make this decision. one of the things that you as a committee need to understand very clearly is that the team doctor is hired by the coach and paid by the front office. this team doctor is not a medical advocate for the players. this team doctors role is to get that player back on the field. even if that means injecting the player on the field. i have seen a wall of players surround a player and seen his
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knees injected. sees his hip injected, and him back on the field. this is inexcusable. i want you to understand the role that the medical community has and facilitating these concussions. the players get to a point where they refuse to tell the team doctor that they have suffered a concussion as well. they do not report because there is a back-up player sitting on the bench ready to take the position. most of their contracts are back and loaded with performance bonuses. they need those extra yards and those interceptions in order to make their salaries. the team doctor goes over the medical records and helps the
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team coach choose the incoming players or the next season. he is involved in the draft process. he evaluates how severe that knee injury was in college. or that concussion. he is part of the selection process. so he has a very vested interest in that players success on the field. the team doctor dresses as a coach on the sidelines. he? in many ways as a coach on the sidelines. he is not an independent advocate for the player. if a player chooses independent medical council, he is considered to be "not" a team player. it becomes a pariah to the team. we have got to stop that. we also need to have, at every
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game, an independent neurologist or near research and on the sidelines neurosurgeon on the sidelines, who is not prejudiced. who is independent, who could make an independent judgment if he sees a player in the huddle throwing up. something needs to be done about this medical care. you cannot leave it and hands of the team physician to make these decisions. and the players are at the point now where they will not support -- self report, because they need the money. they are disposable commodity. there is a draft coming up every april. these players fight to hold onto their jobs and a welcome shots
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and anything else that will keep them on the field. this is in my idea inhumane and i watched it since the early 1970's. and i will tell you that it has not changed. do not be fooled that since i left the game in 1994 that this game has changed. you can see the discussions on whether to empty bow -- time tiboe should play. my grandson is 10 years old. tim tibow is his idol. you better believe that tim will rush back out there to play. we need a medical doctor on the sideline to tell my grandson know. -- to tell my grandson no.
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>> thank you very much. dr. andrew tucker, medical director in baltimore, 15 years experience providing primary medical care to professional, collegiate, scholastic, and recreational athletes. head team physician for the doll -- for the baltimore ravens. he serves on a number of the advisory committees. he is focused on the performance enhancing agents, mile traumatic brain injury, and cardiovascular health. and as i understand it, he is currently the president of the national football league decision society -- decisions
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phy-- physicians society. i will put the rest of his resonate into the record as i will with all the other panelists. dr. tucker, we're pleased that we -- you could be with us today. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i will correct one piece of affirmation. i am a past president of the nfl society. i had been a team physician in the nfl since 1991. and a member of the nfl committee on mild traumatic brain injury since its inception in 1994. i have seen positive changes both in the science and in the culture related to the injury of concussion in the nfl and would like to summarize these for you now from the perspective of the concussion committee member, in 1994, when the commissioner requested that a committee be formed to determine what was
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known about concussions in sports, and to study every facet of the injury as a related to the game of football. it revealed a stark reality. we did not have much scientific data on sports related concussions. evaluation and treatment guidelines were well-intentioned but not based on solid science. major held in manufacturers told us that their products have not changed substantially in many years. their products are adequately protecting players from catastrophic brain injuries, but there was no stimulus for innovation to decrease the risk of a concussion. the first several years of committee activity concentrated on understanding the very basic after the homology -- epidemiology. the committee enlisted the help of highly respected by a mechanical experts from the academic communities in the u.s. and canada to study concussions in professional football in creative ways.
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videotape of actual concussive injury on the field of play was that aid and analyze. the researchers were able to recreate laboratory reconstructions of conditions of helmeted test dummies that accurately represented what was happening to players on the field. this had never been done before. research breakthroughs resulted in tangible benefits. helmet design -- the affirmation that we have shared with manufacturers was a critical stimulus to the first changes in helmet design in many years and provides us with optimism that the risk of concussion in players at all levels -- not elimination, but the risk -- might be freeze with these improved designs. secondly, helmut testing. because we have a ballot laboratory protocol for recreating the conditions that result in concussions on the field, this laboratory set up
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can be used to evaluate the new products that i just spoke about. thirdly, the interaction with nocsae. it is the committee that establishes safety standards for sports equipment including helmets. the same elements that are children wear. it allowed us to understand that the speeds and forces associated with injury and concussion in the nfl were different from what they were using to test helmets. bus are open dialogue has resulted in modifications in how helmets are tested for efficacy. as the commissioner reminded us, rule changes. a greater understanding of how concussions occur on the field has been shared with the national football league and provides the competition committee with valuable objective give permission to make rule changes to protect players and make the game safer. a lot like also to take a couple of moments to talk about
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neuropsychological testing and the study of retired players. the testing has been utilized in the study of neurological patients for over half a century. our colleagues in pittsburgh and other academic centers were leaders in developing the testing for the evaluation of brain injury since the early 1990's. the task has evolved as a valid and reviled -- about evaluation and management tool for sports related concussion. our committee was instrumental in supporting the use of this technology across all nfl teams in the mid to late 1990's. its use is now mandated for all nfl clubs. it was also mr. mill in promoting the use of the evaluation and treatment of athletes at all levels of competition. retired players -- the study of retired players remains the most concentrated focus of our activities to date. while other researchers have published findings from survey and questionnaire data that
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suggest that corporate concussions may increase the risk for chronic changes in brain functions in retired players, our committee has noted this and regarded as voluble and concerning and not yet definitive. these are due to limitations in research methods which will be spoken about. the committee is supervising a study of retired players that a ball -- that involves a control group of men who played college football in order to more definitely ascertain whether playing professional football is associated with increased risk of brain function in the retired athletes. the issue of chronic traumatic encephalopathy -- the players -- the issue will be debated inside and outside our committee. some experts believe autopsy findings of former football players are due solely to the effects of trauma, while other experts feel repetitive concussions are only a piece of the puzzle of a very complicated
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issue. the committee has hosted scientific exchanges on this topic as recently as may. we will let another meeting next month. lastly, education. education of our own medical staff and players has been a priority of our committee since its inception. the first educational symposium was soon after the committee started in the mid-1990s. the most recent was in chicago in 2007, and another is planned for 2010. ongoing concussion education is regularly all part of our scientific interchanges at the combine in indianapolis. we have shared our knowledge and experience with our colleagues in sports medicine tour by an annual nfl team physician meetings. clearly the last 15 years has been a time for import advances in concussion research and clinical care. while our committee has
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published 17 articles from our research, we hardly admit that we have all the answers. our charge remains overseeing quality research for the benefit of our active and retired players, and to advance the science of sports related concussion. my last perspective is that of a team physician. there are many challenges to evaluating in treating concussions and athletes of all ages. while the injury is easy to diagnose in some cases, there are other situations which -- many and at the lead sustaining a concussion is difficult to diagnose. with concussion as with any medical issue, the medical staff is dependent on the at least giving us accurate information to help us make an accurate diagnosis and properly care for the player. team physicians an athlete traders have long observed two primary barriers to this important exchange pre-athlete has thought that being mildly concussed is simply part of the game and not important permission to share with the
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medical staff. secondly, athletes want to compete and they want to play. they tend not to give us information that might result in restrictions to play. i feel strongly that not only in the nfl's but as well as in my high school and college athletes, these barriers of like a patient education and unconscious reluctance to share information are much less imposing now than they were 10 or 15 years ago. finally, as a team physician at all levels of competition, i evacuate and manage concussions differently today than i did 15 years ago. while we try to understand the potential effect of head injuries on our current retired players, i do not think it is wise to indict the care being provided today's players based on reports of players treated at a generation or more ago. i am truly optimistic that the care being rendered to these athletes will prove it very beneficial to the retired athletes of tomorrow. thank you, mr. chairman.
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>> dr. tucker, we thank you for your statement. i'm not pleased to recognize dr. robert cantu, clinical professor of near roles -- your surgery -- euro surgery, author of over 300 scientific publications, including 21 books on your surgery -- neurosurgery, lots of chapters and peer reviewed papers and others of the light. he has served as associate editor of medicine and science. he is doing a lot of helping some self. -- health things himself. we will put this very expensive resume into the record.
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we're pleased and honored to have you here. >> i thank you, sir. mr. chairman, members of the judiciary committee, i am honored to be here today and thank you for allowing me to provide this testimony. i am a neurosurgeon who spent the past 30 years of my career focusing on issues pertaining to sports related concussion. as the author of the first return to play guidelines after a football concussion nearly 30 years ago, i have been fortunate to be able to participate in the development of and be a co- author of numerous international and national nata and acsm return to play guidelines for athletes following concussion. we are here today because there is a growing awareness of the
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public health crisis we are facing due to long term consequences of football-related brain trauma. over the past several years, there has been growing and convincing evidence that repetitive concussive and subconcussive blows to the head in nfl players lead to a progressive near a degenerative brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, cte. this judiciary committee hearing was scheduled soon after a newspaper report of the nfl- funded research study of 1063 former nfl players who were givinen a lead the taliban -- telephone survey which included items pertaining to whether they were diagnosed as having dementia or other memory related diseases. the survey found the incidence of memory related diseases and dementia to be 19 times the
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national average in the 30-49 year-old age group. this comes as no surprise to those of us at the center for the study of dramatic and sat falloff of lead traumatic encephalopathy -- at the center for the study of dramatic and set a lot of the at boston university. was this survey and its findings accurate? i am sure that we will hear more of that shortly. unfortunately the diagnosis of dementia cannot be made on a phone survey and the term "memory-related diseases" is not a precise medical term. thus the study's design is highly flawed. but it has had the positive effect of increasing the public awareness of this important issue. i am not here to debate the merits of this study but to point out that we have in my opinion a serious public health problem today resulting from
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repetitive head trauma too often experienced by nfl players. but the problem is much bigger than the nfl. it affects football players at all levels, including college, high school, and youth leagues. and it is not just football. it is also a sports at high risk of brain injury, hawker, soccer, lacrosse, among others, that is risk for cte. the brain does not know what caused it to be violently shaken inside the skull. a football helmet to helmet hit, a left hook to the jaw, a check against the boards, or even a blast injury in military combat. the response in all may be the conversion of a naturally occurring britain -- brain protein, tau a the law high
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hyperphosphorylated form that is toxic to nerve cells and their connections. while our research shows that this abnormal accumulation of tau is widespread throughout the individuals -- throughout the brains of individuals with cte, is immediately concentrated in medial temporal lobe structures and thus leads to a clinical triad of recent memory failure, and extreme degrees dementia, depression, and lack of impulse control. all cte has been mostly reported in the world's literature in boxers, and for the longest period of time, over 80 years, nearly 20 cases and all i several years have been reported from individuals that formerly played in the nfl. in our group, we've recently reported a case of cte in a man who only played football at the college level. obviously some of these individuals have entered the nfl already within said that if not
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full blown cte. but the -- with a incipient, if not full-blown, cte. now that we are aggressively looking for cte, there has been a 40% increase in recognized cases in the last two years alone and we believe that this is but the tip of the iceberg. thus, i believe we have a serious public health problem and a master under-appreciation of what head trauma, especially multiple head trauma, at both the said concussive and subconcussive levels, can lead to. there's no doubt that these injuries do lead to an incurable neuro degenerate -- near a degenerative brain disease called cte which causes serious progressive impairments in cognition, emotion, and behavior
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control, and eventual full-blown dementia and three obviously not every athlete who experiences head trauma develops this disease. future research will reveal additional important factors that make some athletes more prone than others to developing cte. but the public health crisis is already here and we cannot afford to wait any longer to make changes to the way we play sports, especially sports like football that are today being played in a way far different han it >> far different than it was initially conceived. blows to the head as we've heard earlier need to be minimized through rule and technique changes in sports especially football. thank you. >> thank you very much.
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>> we now turn to dr. david weir, who is currently a research professor at the university of michigan's institute for social research. specializing in research on the measurement of health-related quality of life, the use of cost-effectiveness measures and health policy and medical decision-making, the role of supplemental health insurance in the medicare population. and had recent projects, research projects commissioned by the nfl care foundation. he was awarded the cole prize for best paper in the journal of
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economic history twice in 1984 and 1995. and the alfred p. sloan research fellowship. i presume, dr. weir, that you are not connected with the university of michigan injury institute recently formed there. we welcome you and we look forward to your testimony. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and members of the committee. for inviting me here today. the institute for social research at the university of michigan is for research to serve the public interest and we're always ready to respond to you. i appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight on our study of retired nfl players. faced with the aging of the u.s. population, we are all looking
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for policies and programs to serve the needs of people after a lifetime of hard work. this unique population of retired football players is an intriguing place to look for challenges and solutions. our study had two broad goals. the first at the request of the nfl was to describe the population of retired players across a wide range of topics from marriage and family life to health, to economic circumstances. in an environment of sensationalized press accounts they sought some basic facts on which to create or improve programs to serve the needs of retired players. the second goal at our suggestion was to lay the foundation for future research that could follow up on specific health problems or other areas of need. i'm pleased to say that the nfl agrees with us that further research on the dementia issue is further warranted and we are now actively planning that follow-up effort. our initial telephone survey found that retired professional football players are to put it
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mildly a diverse and fascinating group. they are highly accomplished, productive members of our communities, churches and families. they suffer from aches and pains and shoulders, knees and necks that make it difficult that activities many of us take us for granted. many in comfortable financial circumstances but some had bad financial information. many are able to get the healthcare they need. they are proud of their achievements and proud of their time as professional athletes. for every such generalization there are exceptions. there are retired players in poverty and without health insurance. some don't particularly like the nfl. there are some who claim their knees don't hurt. this diversity is particularly true for the issue of cognitive impairment and dementia that is the focus of the hearing today. in our telephone interviews, 96% of nfl retirees report that they do not have such problems.
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but 4% do. and in some cases the disability and the need is profound. depending on the severity of the problems which our study could not assess, those numbers may or may not indicate an elevated risk from a career playing football. we can't draw a conclusion and no responsible scientist would do so. those who assert that the rates reported by former players definitively show a higher risk do so by greatly underestimating the extent of dementia and cognitive impairment in the general population. i wish it were rare but it is not. it is a major public health challenge facing the country. the follow-up study will address the major limitations of the telephone study with regard to the measurement of dementia and cognitive impairment. it will utilize a design and methods similar to ones we have used in the health and retirement study which i have the privilege to direct at the
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university of michigan with funding from the national institute on aging. the methods and results of this approach to diagnosis of impairment and dementia have been published in peer reviewed scientific journals. it is done in the home by trained professionals and does not require travel or visits to clinics that might exclude some participants. with respect to individuals in the nfl studied to reported a memory related illness and the more common and less disabling mild cognitive impairment. the needs of these two groups are very different and we will assess the extent to which the 88 plan created by the league and the players association is meeting those needs. with respect to individuals who did not report any memory-related illness we will seek to determine whether there is any significant dementia or impairment in a sample of cases. by comparison to studies using the same methods in the general population, we will be able to say to what extent retired
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professional football players differ if their rates of impairment and dementia i understand the intense interest in this issue and the combashs to have answers. -- impatience to have answers. we will not delay but getting it right is more important than getting fast. to those retired players who we will ask to participate in the next stage of this research, i make the promise that we will protect your privacy and we will report the truth. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much, doctor. i appreciate that. our next witness is george martin, who is the national football league's all time leader in touchdown. and it goes on from there quite a long time here. are you still playing? >> no, sir.
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>> last year george martin walked across the country to raise money for medical care for the first responders to the september 11, 2001, terrorist attack. he raised close to $3 million for the families. and just this month he was elected to be executive director of the national football league alumni association. and we will put all of your resume into the record. and welcome you on that note. we're very proud to have you here, sir. >> thank you. chairman conyers. >> mic.
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push the button. >> thank you, sir. chairman conyers, distinguished members of the house judiciary committee, my fellow colleagues commissioner roger goodel and lamar smith i sincerely consider my presence to be a privilege and honor. a privilege in the fact that for a moment i have a respected platform on which to bring a rather alarming issue to the light from an extremely unique perspective. and honored by the fact that i represent a constituency that will be observing the outcome of these hearings from a more than a casual perspective. therefore, i applaud these proceedings and hopefully this will represent the impetus and serve as the catalyst to effect greater and even more meaningful responses to a even growing phenomenon. as executive director of the alumni association, the recent medical findings surrounding head trauma in the nfl in general and concussions has sparked sharp debate and generated considerable interest
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within this industry. while we as concerned representatives of the alumni association find the initial medical research alarming to say the least, unlike my other esteem colleagues today and with all respect i'm the only one here that can give direct and actual firsthand accounts of the violence and the often injurious aftermath which leads to an accelerated diminishing physical and mental capacity and sometimes fatal human collateral. as a former defensive lineman in the nfl for the last 14 years, i've had the experience of enduring life in what is commonly referred to in the nfl trenches. and unfortunately, during that era when violent tactical maneuvers such as head slaps, close line tackles and headbutts were common place in nfl football, which most have been eliminated these combative
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interactions were trivialized and minimized by the powers to be usually referring to such incidents as simply getting your bell rung, getting your clock cleaned or having cobwebs in your bonnet. you may ask the obvious question as to why. why refer to such antiquated and arkaic behavior that has long such been banned in professional athletes. the answer is simple. though the practice of such brutality has long such slabished. and our fear to be more prevalent and widespread among our aging nfl alumni population than anyone realized. it's inherently dangerous and according to several recent studies most notably the center for study of traumatic encephalopathy of boston school of medicine is that such incidents can perhaps lead to premature death of athletes. the sum total of such medical
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affliction such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy. as the all encompassing illness affects every family member who happens to be associated with the victim or the patient. i reluctantly highlight this problem by betraying the confidence of a very personal friend who over the course of a professional lifetime has meant the world to me as a mentor, a attempt to, a business associate. after 10 years in the nfl season as highly successful running back. he retired to be the picture of health. he diligently maintained a rigorous regiment of athletic activities while playing competitive tennis for at least three days a week. he also maintained a healthy diet and he never varied 5 pounds above or below his optimum. and he has fast food franchises.
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business travel both domestically and internationally was a necessity and frequent occurrence. to say that he maintained an active lifestyle would have been an understatement. there were no overt signs of diminished capacity in his lifestyle except for one fateful day after returning from a business trip he simply forgot where he parked his car. upon sharing the story with his friends, we all had an amusing laugh at his experience and naively chalked it up to happenstance. he said george i think i got hit in the head. within the span of 24 months this once vibrant, hyperactive individual has been reduced to a mere shelf himself who is now confined to self-imposed house arrest and with each passing day slips further and further away from the dynamic personality that we all once knew him to be.
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the shame, the embarrassment, the degradation, this unfortunate scenario rings as a far too familiar refrain among many nfl alumni. if my presence here today and my very public betrayal of this deeply confidential situation of my former nfl colleagues results in illuminating this calamity than neither have been in vain. of it centers around four primary concerns. first and foremost, prevention. so that the perpetual cycle of recurrence of these in sports itself are diminished and better yet totally eliminated through rule changes and enhanced protective equipment. secondly, proper diagnosis and effective medical treatment without laborious and agonizing red tape that oftentimes become
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a painful prelude that is discouraging and is completely exacerbating an already dire situation. thirdly, that such medical treatment not result in a financial catastrophic tsunami which predominantly wreaks havoc, financial havoc on the survival family. finally, a more comprehensive study which should include a cross-section of alumni in order to accurately determine the full extent of the problem among retirees who may be predisposed to this insidious debilitating medical situation. on behalf of the nfl alumni we appreciate the forum in which to state our position in this vital matter. thank you very much. >> that's very moving and i'm glad that you were here to tell it. >> thank you, sir. >> merrill hodge, former pittsburgh steelers, was the
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team's starting runningback for six seasons. he set the jet stream record for the most receptions by a runningback totaling 50 in 1988. but he suffered his first concussion with the berries during the 1994 season in a game in kansas city. and he was back playing five days later. but when he suffered his second concussion six weeks later, it ended his career. he had to relearn how to read. sometimes get lost coming home
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from a restaurant that he frequented for years. he's now an analyst for espn -- a nfl analyst. and even sometimes things can trigger problems about concentration and so forth. we're very proud to have you with us. and i realize with time constraints and we received the concurrence of the ranking member to take you from the second panel and put you in the first panel and we're very pleased you're here to talk to us today. >> thank you, chairman conyers. i appreciate that. and ranking member smith and committee members it's an honor to be here. as mentioned i played eight years in the national football league.
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seven for the pittsburgh steelers and one for the chicago bears. in the prime of my career, a series of concussions cost me my career. and nearly took my life. after my second concussion i was escorted into the training room where i flatlined. as they started to resuscitate me, i popped back up and they rushed me to the emergency room where i'd lay in icu for two days. in the first 24 hours i could not recall my wife, my daughter, or my brother who were there at the time. i was confined at home for weeks where i couldn't leave unless somebody went with me. i had to learn how to read again. i went through depression. and these major symptoms took nearly two years to recover from. two things went wrong from my first concussion on a monday night game in kansas city. first, i never saw a
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neurological doctor. second of all, i was cleared five days later to play the game of football over the phone by a family practitioner. now, due to contrary testimony already, i will say this. there has been significant changes in the national football league based on the nfl and the nfl pa. what happened to me would not happen in the national football league today. that does not mean we're all the way there. we are on our way. something that's also extremely important. that we all understand and that is why we're here. the brain is the most vital and sensitive organ in our bodies. without it we do not function. and we do not operate. that is why i got to broaden the scope, mr. chairman, and ask that you help us establish a national standard. part of that national standard -- and this is where it can be somewhat of a calming and
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a soothing approach to this. is that the standard be a part -- part of the standard being that a neurological doctor is always part of the evaluation of head trauma. somebody who is trained for that. secondly, within this national standard, that a player, he or she, does not return to play to their particular sport until they are asymptomatic for seven consecutive days exertion and at rest after they have cleared. if we establish just those standards with all football we would have less tragic stories than we have to this point. now, as i broaden the scope, let me include the youth football. we have over 3 million kids playing football. that's twice as many that exist
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in high school, college, or the nfl combined. and we cannot forget them. the reason i'm somewhat adamant about this at this point i am a youth coach. i'm active in youth football and other sports. i am the head coach. i am the trainer. i am the equipment manager. i am the cheerleader. i am the psychologist all in one. and especially in the early moments of injuries. my experiences have truly helped me in critical moments in these programs but oftentimes i watch the sidelines with uneducated parents dealing with our youth. and it is a grave concern. within that standard that i'm trying to propose is because i have never been a part of a program where there's a standard or a protocol to add injuries. if we are better educated in that fashion we would have less tragedies. so i'm asking you to help us with that.
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help us create better standards, better requirement, and better education. and that we don't overreact. that we promote athletics. we promote activity. what is the -- one of the biggest concerns we have in our youth today within our society, it is obesity. the healthcare issues that exist with that. so we cannot say because of head trauma and concussions we must eliminate sports. we must educate. we must properly evaluate and properly take care of those athletes. if we do that and create a safety, that will encourage more youth to be involved in our sports. that we are properly taking care of them and educating them. now, i've met many times with roger goodel. my ear, my words and have not fallen on deaf ears. he's been genuine, sincere and committed to this issue and the health and benefit issues of our former players.
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i've also met with the lamar smith many times. he's also genuine, sincere and committed to helping this issue and our former players. and i address them for just a second. they are the people that we cannot forget. they are the ones that created the stage that i was fortunate enough to play on. i was part of building a stage that the current player is playing on. and the current player is continually building the stage and the national football league that future players will build on. but eventually all will be retired players and too many times the nfl and the nfl pa has made it too difficult on our retired players to get the proper care that they deserve. being here today gives me great hope that we may bridge the gap not only on this particular subject with brain trauma but the healthcare and the health
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issues that exist in the nfl. commissioner conyers, i want to thank you for having me here and the rest of the committee. thank you for your time. >> thank you very much. i've got three questions. but you reference the uneducated parent. i'm not a very sensitive person. but would you describe that uneducated parent with a little more specificity. >> chairman conyers i absolutely would and it's a great question and i have a great example that just happened several weeks ago. and may i broaden the scope a little bit even from the uneducated parent to the uneducated coach that works our youth sideline. i had a young kid named griffin who had -- who got up from a collision, and he was a little woozy. so he had sustained some type of head trauma. as i pulled him to the side ironically his older brother, jake, helps coach. he's 25 years old.
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now, jake obviously knows griffin much better than i although i know griffin very well. i wanted to address what was going on with griffin. i wanted to talk. i wanted to address a lot of cognitive things that i'm aware of from retrograde to an-anteriograde and looking at his pupils and i asked jake to make sure they didn't elevate from sickness to dizziness. after five minutes jake ran up to him and he said grif is ready to go back in. i'm like griff is done playing. i wanted to make sure that the symptoms did not elevate so that we could get him to the hospital and then after the game talk to his parents about monitoring him and taking him to the doctor if necessary. the caution and concern that i have there is jake could very easily be a head coach in our youth program and he was willing to put his own brother on the
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football field and purely out of ignorance and i understand that me being 25 years old and being jake and the lack of experience i had at that time, i probably would have done the same thing. and that's why i think standards and education would help mistakes being made like that. >> thank you so much. my three questions are these. commissioner, is there a link playing professional football and the likelihood and contracting a brain-related injury such as dementia, alzheimer's, depression or cte. i may also ask dr. cantu to comment on it. my second question is, commissioner goodell and will you agree to open your books, records, files, the league, its teams so that we may conduct an
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independent examination concerning brain-related diseases? and madam dr. culverhouse, how does it make you feel to see your former players suffering from the actions to put players back in the game after injuries? >> chairman, let me address your first question. you're obviously seeing a lot of information that our committees and others have presented with respect to the linkage and the medical experts should be the one to be able to continue that debate. but our bottom line is we're not waiting for that debate to continue. we want to make sure our game is as safe and we're doing everything we possibly can for our players now. and that is why we have engaged the group aggressively to making changes to our game.
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we have done some of the things that have been discussed here on a variety of levels. let's start with the fact that we have made significant rule changes to our game. five rule changes this year alone have been made that i think are improving the safety and welfare of our players. they have had a positive impact in the short term that they've been in place and we will continue as we have done every year to evaluate rule changes to make our game safer. many of those changes this year were specific to head injuries. and making sure that we take certain techniques out of the game that can be unsafe for our players both in the short term and potentially in the long term. we have also engaged very aggressively on education. we have worked with the players association, with our medical doctors to create information that we can share with our players and also with players at other levels. that is a very important -- >> well, you've testified to that.
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but i just asked you a simple question. what's the answer? >> the answer is the medical experts are no better than i would with respect to to that. we are not treating that in any way in delaying anything that we do. we are re-enforcing our commitment to make sure we make the safest -- >> okay. i've heard it. dr. cantu? >> the majority of chronic traumatic encephalopathy have been reported in boxers and it's reported at a younger age in boxers because they probably take more head trauma than any other sport. but it's not confined to boxers. obviously, we're here today because of the same entity due to head trauma in the nfl. but it's been reported in a soccer player and rugby and in individuals that have head-banging disorders. it's been reported in a clown that got shot out of a canon in a circus and every time it got
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shot out it was like being concussed. i think there's cause and effect. it's not unique to the nfl, though. >> commissioner goodell and director smith, will you let us see the records? >> the answer to that question is absolutely yes. we first discussed this between the nfl and the nfl pa back last spring. we are going to make all medical records available to them and we, of course, will do that for the committee. >> yes, sir. of course, we will. >> thank you. dr. culverhouse? >> yes. as one could imagine my children were involved in football early on. i have a child born in '72, '73, and '74 so they went with me to games and -- they developed favorite players, players that
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took the time to give a handshake to my son or give my daughter a ride on his shoulders. in january, i learned that one of those players who had stayed in tampa and started a successful business was dead. batman wood, my son's favorite player because he wore bats on his shoulders and his elbows and his knees and my son could pick him out was getting lost trying to drive home from starbucks. i met with batman and heard about his story and asked him about another player that we had really liked, jerry eckwood and he said, gay, he's really bad. i said i've got to find him. because i need to help him.
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same thing with scott brantley, a former gator and scott brantley is in -- scott brantley is in big trouble now. and he said to me this morning as i was coming over here -- he said gay, you've always been a rebel but you're a rebel with a cause. make them hear that we're hurt. make them hear that we can't fill out all of their forms. we can't do it. our mental capacity isn't there to answer the questions on the phone and fill out the forms. they're missing those of us that are severely disabled. and so what i am doing with randy grimes and a number of my players is i am filling out the forms. i am going through the networks for them. to access benefits that they may be entitled to, which are not enough to sustain them monetarily.
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they're not enough. $5,000 for a hip replacement is not enough. i just had my knee done. i can tell you that for a big fact. but we've got to get proactive for these players. so i am going to little rock, arkansas, to find jerry eckwood to take him to the doctors myself and fill out the forms to get this man the help emerald. -- he needs. i don't want to read about another one of my players that's dead. i don't want to have to tell my children their favorite gentle giant is dead. this isn't working for me. >> our ranking member lamar smith. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'd like to address my first question to mr. goodell and mr. fisher and mr. martin and i know you all will come at the answers from different perspectives. mr. goodell you may want to address you and the players association can cooperate and
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new rules that might come up. and dr. tucker you might address equipment and. my question is this, we've discussed a lot today about the problems. we've discussed a lot about past actions that have been taken. my question is, what future actions should we take? what are the next steps it off advance our understanding of the problem of head injuries it off try to improve treatment and to try to increase prevention of these head injuries? even though you have different perspectives, if you'll talk about the future as opposed to the present or the past and mr. goodell. >> well, let me try to address that an as concisely without repeating a lot of the testimony. we need to continue to support this research and make sure we put more and more into this research so that we can find out exactly what are the medical facts. that's first. and we will continue to do that. the second we're going to have to do is to continue to prevent
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these injuries in the best way we can. that's rule-changes that we have instituted that are making a difference. second is we made some -- because of the research we've done made some very important changes to the equipment particularly in the helmets and the chin straps and these are important changes for us in making the game safer. the other issue that i would say is the education. i think the big issue for us and for every player at every level and in every sport as was pointed out here is to make sure they're aware of the issues that come from when you have a conchug and it's a serious injury and you have to take it seriously and get medical care. >> dr. tucker? >> yeah, at the risk of repeating some of the testimony, thanks, i'll speak a little bit more specifically to equipment. we've made mention that research has shown at least concussions that occur in the nfl frequently occur to blows to the side of the head and into the face mask.
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this information was given to the helmet manufacturers and it was the first change in many, many years. the new helmets that have been rolled out in the last handful of years test better in the laboratory. so we're optimistic that the forces being imparted to the brain are showing that they're decreased compared to the older helmets. it won't eliminate conconductions but if -- concussions it will decrease the risk and it will take more time and study and meticulous tracking of this to figure out whether the new helmets actually decrease risk of concussion or the actual occurrence of concussion in the national football league. interestingly over the last one to two seasons the number of concussions diagnosed and recorded have actually dropped slightly but i wouldn't make too much of that. i think it's premature to say. >> thank you, dr. tucker. mr. martin, any practical advice
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you have for us? >> yes, sir. i'd like to add this. that i'm optimistic that in this new spirit of cooperation that we can all come together with a unique plan to address many of these serious issues. but the three points that i am concerned about particularly as it relates to a lot of the so-called heroes or our constituents that we must make sure that we determine and identify where they are because a lot of them are -- you know, they value their anonymity and we want to make certain we have identified them and embraced them in this new era. secondly, we want to make sure that all the splinter of faction groups are working off the same goal to make sure that these are not isolated incidents and we can address them collectively. so i am very optimistic about this new era and this new platform that we have of recognizing the severity of this. and that's the message i'm going to take from her. -- from here.
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>> how many of touchdowns did you score on the interceptions or fumbles? >> i have a total and -- i'll speak to mr. goodell about this. [laughter] >> i held the record for most touchdowns by a defensive lineman which was 7. however, i have one touchdown as a an offensive lineman which would make it 8. i don't know -- >> we'll correct the record. [laughter] >> it's 8, sir. >> thank you. dr. weir, my last question is for you and that's regard to the study for the institute of social research. how is your study misrepresented and how has that impacted the discussion of study and debate? >> i believe as i said in my testimony it's been misrepresented to the extent that it's asserted -- there's a certainty that there's an elevated risk demonstrated by our study which i don't believe deadliest. i don't believe there is.
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my concern and i think mr. hoge raised this very well. we have an epidemic of obesity of children. do we want to spell prospective junior athletes there's a 19 to 1 risk of dementia if you participate in sports? i think that's a very damaging kind of thing to have out there. without really good scientific support for making it. that would be my main concern is that we're possibly frightening people away from healthy participation. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> mel watts, north carolina, a distinguished member of the committee. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and let me thank the chairman for convening this hearing. it's been very enlightening and i want to express my thanks to the former players in the nfl for the very balanced approach
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that they brought to their testimony. maybe i could get mr. smith to cut his microphone off over there. >> cut your mic off. >> thank you. i'm also a big nfl football fan and certainly observed the change that has taken place in the attitude about this issue. i am a big carolina panther fan and observed the dante wesley hit that got him suspended and knew in my own mind that several years ago the response to that would have been a 15-yard penalty and that would have been the end of it. so i understand that there is a
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change of attitude taking place here. and the one thing that i try to discern out of these hearings of this kind is what kind of public policy direction we might take so i'm extremely appreciative to the last two witnesses for their balance on that because after all these years we still haven't taken any steps to outlaw or ban boxing and i don't think we're likely to take any steps to outlaw or ban football. so we have to look at what the possible adjustments are short of that that may be made either within the sport or from a public policy perspective. the one thing that i kept
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wondering about throughout the testimony particularly mr. goodell, dr. culverhouse, mr. martin in particular -- there seemed to be financial incentives that discourage athletes from being honest about their own condition even if they are capable of discerning their own condition. all of the counter-pressures are there for them to get back in the game and be able to perform because there are financial incentives associated with that. is there a policy in place
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already in the nfl -- or is there some kind of policy that you all might be able to think of that would minimize or eliminate that financial incentive by assuring that a person who is diagnosed with a concussion and has to miss a game as a result of the standards that i think mr. martin or merril hoge outlined -- is there some way to build a contract necessity that would shield those players against the consequences of the medical conditions that they incur? mr. goodell, ms. culverhouse, i would be particularly interested
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and mr. martin in your response to that. >> well, i'd be happy to start. first off, you do identify an issue, self-reporting of concussions. it's been an issue and we have, i think, by the education that we have jointly done with the players association and with the player advisory committee -- >> you're evading the question again, mr. goodell. i asked you about contracts. >> well, let me address that directly then on the contracts. if a player miss as game because of a concussion he is still paid. so the athlete still gets paid. >> but there are financial consequences at the end of the contract, the incentive compensation for games played, for -- there are economic consequences that flow from that. is there a way to protect against that? >> there may be some incentive
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contracts that would be hindered on that depending on the length of time the player would be out. it would be something we would to have discuss with the players association and try to see if there's a way to address that. >> mr. martin, dr. culverhouse and my time has expired, so i'll just -- i won't interrupt you in your response. >> i'll take a stab at it. i'm not quite sure i have the answers to it, mr. watts. but i appreciate the question. i don't know if you can disincentivize because his predisposition to want to go out and perform. i'm not sure how you protect his financial incentive to perform in light of being injured versus disincentivizing him to protect him from the injury. that's a difference question. and i'm sorry i don't have the answer. >> use your mic. >> it would be very difficult for the nfl to mandate to the owners how to structure their contracts. that would be a difficult thing.
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as i can tell you that owners are like a bunch of mavericks and it would be very difficult to mandate to them how to have their players play because incentive bonuses are the way you get those players back in the game and you win. they don't model, coddle. this is a business. it's a blinking cutthroat business. the bottom line is making money. and if their player ain't playing and the team's losing, that's the bottom line. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i've gone over. i yield back. >> senior member bob goodlette. >> well, thank you, mr. chairman. mr. chairman i'd like to direct my questions primarily to mr. goodell and to also mr. smith. and it regards, first of all, the problem that has been very,
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very well described by everyone on this panel today in terms of the risk of these head injuries and the fact that this is something that starts becoming a problem at a very young age, in junior high school, high school on up through college and long before they get to the nfl. there are a number of good ideas that have been expressed. mr. hoge had some very good ideas regarding neurological examinations and with regard to seven days staying away from the football field until they're asymptomatic for at least seven days. and i'm sure there are a you been in of very good ideas that medical experts and coaches and others could offer in this regard. but one of the problems is getting the information out. i'm not sure that given the wide variety and changing opinions that this is suitable for legislation from the congress.
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but i'm wondering does the nfl during games use public service announcements, for example, to educate young people and their parents about the risks of head injuries and things that could be done on a practical basis to avoid them in little league play and in high school and so then? -- so on? >> we have used public service time. we could probably use more on this. but i would tell you that the most important thing is we set the example on the nfl field. we saw this past management when we had a player go down with a concussion. he was taken off the field. he did not come back to the game. and it was done in a very cautionary and conservative way and i think that is the message we need to send to people. and we will look at the idea of whether we can give more public service time -- >> i missed that play.
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did it involve a play that required a penalty or some other action on the part of the referees to indicate that this injury was sustained because of inappropriate activity or was it -- >> it wasn't an inappropriate activity. it was actually a knee that hit to the back of the player which happens in our game and in other sports. >> well, i mean, i wonder if you would review the policy you have. i see many public service announcements that a promote various things on the broadcast of professional sports and you could work with the broadcast companies to promote greater information just promoting the very ideas that mr. hoge prompted. and mr. smith, i wonder what you think about that. but also what involvement the players association has in promoting getting that kind of information out to young people and their parents. do you favor having a greater
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contractual requirements for the players to actually get out and whether voluntarily or as part of their contract be more engaged in communities around the country to promote this kind of safety? >> congressman, our players are doing that right now. and i think to answer your question, succinctly. i think there's four or five things that we can actually do. and i'm proud to say we are doing. our players in the national football league i believe should be the model. i think that commissioner goodell is right. we have an obligation to set the standard. that standard is the standard that will be followed in college. it will be followed in high school. and it will be a role model for youth football. both of us are vitally involved in the usa football movement. we use that vehicle not only to encourage youngsters to play football but to do it safely. third, our players are also a number of the individuals who
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end up being coaches in the national football league, and coaches on the high school level and coaches on the youth football level. so having our players understand and embrace all of the information to make safe choices is yet another way in addition to psas that we can get the message out. lastly, we do a tremendous amount of work on the players association to get players to appreciate the best and the right helmets to wear. we believe that if we advise the players and give them all of the information, the most up-to-date information, urge them to wear the helmet it is, that's yet another way that we serve to set the right example and to get the information out to the people that you mentioned. >> thank you. it sounds like both of you are very committed to trying to reduce these injuries not only within the nfl but in the sport of football at large.
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and i think getting that information down to -- particularly to parents and coaches down to the high school and college level is very, very important. and i think you could both use more resources than are devoted to it now to play a major role in that since you're the ultimate beneficiaries of that entire system that finds and recruits the finest football players and get them into the nfl and gives them the opportunities that they have and that all americans have to enjoy professional football. wouldn't it be the best path forward for the problems that the nfl itself for the private parties to come up with the best solutions? are either of you arguing that the congress should be making this decision? and if so, why? >> we are not arguing that. we think that we have pushed research and education. we have made changes to our game, to the equipment. we have made significant changes which i'm happy to put into the
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record with respect to the management of concussions. i think we're doing a terrific job and a much better job and much improved job of conservatively treating concussions and managing them when they occur so we don't have conditions that merill hoge spoke about before. i think we are doing a job that is important because these are serious injuries and we need to continue to make advances. >> congressman, we don't believe that legislation is the only answer. one thing that we all know just by all of us being brought here today is this great body not only can spark public debate and serve to inform, to better the lives of everybody through legislation but also by having these hearings. we've talked a lot today about a university of michigan study. but one of the things that will be entered into the record is the fact that over the last 10 years there have been hundreds of studies on this issue that has talked about the links
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between on-field head trauma and the early onset of a number of mental illnesses. so while we are here perhaps because of the recent articles and the news that has come out about a number of players, the reality is over the last 10 years there has been study after study after study after study. and i do believe -- to go back to your early point how can we do a better job is to understand and embrace these studies as being game-changers and player safety and getting that information out to all of -- not only the kids who will play football from youth football going forward but to the coaches and to the parents who gladly have their kids be involved in physical activity. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much. before i recognize maxine waters, we are pleased to appreciate the presence of jim
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brown of the cleveland browns in the room. thank you for joining us, jim. >> thank you. >> the distinguished gentlelady from california, maxine waters. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. and members. before i raise a few questions i would like to submit for the record full disclosure of my husband's affiliation with the national football league having previously played for at least three teams, the cleveland browns with the great mr. jim brown, pittsburgh and the washington redskins. and so i do have intimate knowledge based on my interaction with a number of players and owners about the nfl. georgia was a very close friend and john shaw who is president of the rams and chip the new owner are friends.
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however, having said that, i remained extremely concerned about the plight of football players, particularly, some of the older ones who worked and played when times were even a lot more difficult for players. let me just ask mr. goodell, in october of 2009 issue of g.q. we were told the story of mike webster, legendary center for the pittsburgh steelers from 1974 to 1988. at the height of his career, mike webster was publicly revered as an unstoppable titan and formidable force in the league. and yet shortly before his death in 2002 at the age of 50, mike webster spent his latter years homeless, suffering from dementia while in a contentious legal battle with the very organization that made him a
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legend. the g.q. article called the legal dispute a battle against a multibillion dollar industry that seemed to have used mike webster, allowed him to become destroyed and then threw him away like a rotten piece of meat. i bring his case because he had dementia, which, obviously, was associated with the years that he played. why could he not get taken care of by the nfl? >> well, congresswoman, she was before my time as the commissioner. i will say and i'm happy to say in our current state right now he would be eligible to participate in our 88 plan and would get the benefits of the 88 plan regardless of whether that was caused by playing in the game. >> how many players do you have out there who have suffered -- who are suffering now, have suffered from dementia or from other injuries related to
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playing football that have not been taken care of because of your benefits packages of the past? for example, i think you changed it but i don't know. those people who took early retirement were not eligible for disability. did you change that? >> yes, we did. what we did is we opened the window to allow them to come in and to get those benefits. so we opened that window for about a six-month period. >> we know that the nfl and the nfl players association are currently renegotiating their collective bargaining agreements. what are you doing in this bargaining that you're involved in now that would deal with the very issue that we're talking about? related to brain injuries and dementia and alzheimer's and all those other things related to these kinds of injury? what are you negotiating that will better recognize the injuries and how you're going to take care of them and their families?
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>> let me take the first start at it and de can contribute to that. i think both of us can identified that the plight of our retired players is a priority -- >> i can't hear you. >> both of us have identified -- i believe this is on. both of us have identified in the collective bargaining process that this is a priority for the owners and for the players to take better care of our retired players. one of the reasons we conducted the survey that may have been one of the impetus for this hearing was to identify the priorities that our players need to have addressed. there are multiple issues that need to be addressed. some of them are medical. some of them are financial -- >> if you'll excuses me. -- excuses me. -- excuse me. we have heard from the nfl time and time again. you're always studying. you're always trying. you're hopeful. i want to know what are you
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doing in the negotiations that are going on now to deal with this problem and other problems related to the injuries that football players obtain and its impact on their health later on? >> well, again, we're at the very early stages of negotiations. but i believe that we will be addressing these matters in a responsible fashion. that we'll be able to come back before you at some point in time and say we have addressed these in a way that's responsible. >> mr. chairman, i appreciate the opportunity for the hearing. i know my time is drawing to a close. but let me just say this to mr. goodell and everybody who's here today that i think it's time for the congress of the united states to take a look at your antitrust exemption. i think that you are, what, $8 billion organization who have not taken seriously your responsibility to the players. the matter is they
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are gog to .. and we know no matter what kind of helmet you build or what kind of equipment you have, it is a dangerous sport, and ,d%@) her modest suggestions. [laughter]
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the chair recognizes howard from north carolina. >> thank you, mr. chair >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you all for your testimony. mr. martin, dr. culverhouse and others mentioned this in their testimony. what does the alumni association had to say to active pro-college and high school players about the importance of early and completely presenting to team physicians any symptoms that may have been caused by concussions, full well as it has been pointed out players are partly reluctant to do that for fear of may be losing college scholarship court losing a pro contract? what do you say to that? >> thank you very much for the question. first of all i say that one of the major activities, alumni athletes have is going back in the community and getting back. and we ourselves position
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ourselves as examples both pro and con, good and bad and we have a platform that we take very seriously. and it is my job and will be my responsibility to make sure that is enhanced, particularly as we are addressing these very serious issues. the problem and the challenge we have getting this information to a wide group of constituents and a lot of our members don't have this information. i think it is vital to receive it. once we obtain the information we didn't have ambassadors to go back. as i said in my earlier point to make sure there isn't a intensity of these kinds of things happening down the line. that will be our charge. >> i'm glad to hear you say that. in a recent "new york times" piece concerning concussions, a former quarterback was quoted as having said woad they are legislating hitting out of the gates, closed quote. we had the same sort of comments from commentators often retired
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players tackling the same sentiment. during television coverage games. this suggests it seems to me that some of the retired players are concerned that the game is not tough enough anymore as a result of the rules changes made to hopefully protect players. how do you respond to that, mr. smith's? >> congressman, last weekend i met with the 40 person congress who represents retired players. they talk about the toughness of the game but they also talk about the lifelong injuries that they sustained, the loss of their ability to keep a train of thought. when you talk to the chair of the wise organization, they will take you a story about players who are unable to move on monday and tuesday's. when i watched brian dawkins walked down the steps who is a
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safety for the denver broncos, gingerly walked down the steps on a monday afternoon, and while i shook his hand and went to embrace him, he put up his hand end user hey, well, i don't think there's anyone who plays football today who doesn't believe this is a very, very tough game. no, we are not looking to legislate hitting out of the game. but in the same way that this congress has stepped in historically, whether it was ncaa almost 40 years ago, or whether it was other issues in professional sports to ensure the safety of players, this bodyworks. when you call a hearing like this where you ask us tough questions, where we put forth information. but i do believe that this congress, this body does have a role in making sure that the people who play this game on the professional level all the way down to the peewee football
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level are doing so safely. >> thank you, mr. smith. doctor, as your second study proceeds, what other research would you like to see perform to help you understand why, if at all, football head injuries cause long-term and are logical and paramount in the players affected? >> as best i understand it, a study underway under the direction of dr. ira cason should shed interesting light on the progression of head injury cases i think it is actually a great importance to compare college athletes and professional athletes to those who did not participate to look at the risk that each of those levels independently. that will probably require a larger study than that one. i know there has been some criticism of the study because being under the league. i think perhaps i should be
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directed by an independent board and offer some of ice on a. it would be a shame if that research into having no value because it was simply considered not credible. we need long-term follow-up of people. >> thank you, dr. weir. mr. chairman, i see the red light has illuminated so i yield back the time that i have. >> thank you, sir. the chair recognizes the distinguished gentlewoman from houston, texas, sheila jackson lee. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and i thank you and the ranking member for this brilliant hearing. actually, i would like to acknowledge roger, that both you and demaurice smith make a very good pair and i think you should look at yourselves as part of the 21st century nfl. i wanted to make mention as i begin my questioning of a meeting that i had this morning
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with nfl hall of famer jim brown. we talked about the fight of the nfl, the value of the players. particularly today. talked about the raging violence among our communities and young men. you have been with me and we have addressed this question. we have acknowledge the fact that the nfl is respected and admired. young men that are a part of this great family that you have can be wonderful role models. and of course, mr. brown is aware of the dire need of intership and manhood training. he is in the room today, and we talked about the idea that i shared with the attorney general recently that tracks mr. brown program but it is to build a partnership with the nfl, and our government on this whole question of violence. and in particular, young african-american men, young men, to create a new revolution in mentoring throughout an fo players out across america in these schools and addressing the
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question of manhood and how do you beat in essence a man to man but also a compassionate, caring person that does not take up the gun. our young people admire all of you, and i want to myself pay tribute to jim brown who stayed so i could thank him for his genius on the idea of reaching out to young people. and i'm going to france to ask a very quick question. would you work with us to implement a program that i would like to start the d.o.j. and others on this question of violence among our young people? >> congressman, yes, we would. as i said earlier in my testimony, we believe that we set the standard on the nfl level, that are players do on and off the field that i've spoken to mr. brown about the work he is doing and i encourage it and we welcome the opportunity. >> i hope the separation of the questioning, but this would be something in addition to what
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you traditionally do and i do appreciate the fact that mr. smith, will we be able to work with you on this issue. >> absolutely. i am always happy to work with the attorney general and to work with you as we have done in the past. we have challenged our players to not only be good players but to be good men in the community. so we would love to part of. >> this would not be an existing program but we're talking about a whole new approach so i look for to that issue. and that leads me to why i'm here questioning today because i want these young men to have completely vibrant lives into their middle ages and into their older ages. i thank jim brown for staying in the room, and we acknowledge and thank you for sharing your great leadership. thank you so very much. my caution is in his name, but also the name of girl campell. my champion, my, many of the others have come out of the grace to texas and let me continue to say keep on coming. i do believe it is in my
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important to my college made an important point. we do not do this in anger. we do not do this in the need to undermine an organization that frankly there will many that say you are america's pastime to the great interest of who bought the saint louis and rams was not about trying to deny capitalism, it was to have you have the right image, the right attitude. that's why some of us have express our opposition to who might be buying the rams. so i would simply say to you, these are my questions. mr. goodell in particular how does a player a former nfl player qualify for the leagues pension plan and disability benefit plan. is my understanding that a football player does not qualify for the pension plan until they are played for four seasons. however, the average span of an nfl career is three points six years to consider these figures it appears the substantial amount of players are not eligible for the benefits that delay does offer. does the plant operate under the
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same framework? so is it not that they have to play for years, sir? >> three years. >> they have to play three years, and they only stay for about 3.6, so we can imagine, mr. smith, would you imagine there could be injury friday three years? >> there are. there are people who do suffer those injuries. there are people who suffer significant injuries prior to their third year in the second came. >> so in actuality, this legislation as we look at and the idea of the antitrust exemption, which many of us are looking to consider as to whether or not that is a way of helping the nfl, are you suggesting that this kind of effort is very important to saving lives and saving future quality of live? >> i think anything we can do to take a look at all the information, to make reasonable decisions based on that information so that we can aid
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more players who play this game, i think any step in that direction is possible. >> ms. culverhouse, could you tell me again what you saw when nfl players had to fill out forms that had been so damaged, could you just tell us again -- i feel like this is a robust public auction, sick people who need help. could you just give us the detail again, please be? yes. you can imagine, i have suffered a concussion. i actually had a brain shear, and could not access words for two years. now that was one concussion. you can imagine players who have sustained repeated concussions. they are now in their late 40s or '50s, and you look at reams of paperwork, print is so small, i have trouble with my glasses. they look at it and they say, gay, i don't remember what year, what game, what date. i don't remember that. and then they look at all that
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and they say isn't worth it? what am i going to get? what am i going to get at the end of all of this is and they would much rather go home, take up a bill and light on the sofa. it's daunting, and there are no advocates to help them fill this need to work out. it is almost as though if you have the intelligence to jump through those hoops, you're not disabled. >> mr. chairman, as i see the red light let me just simply say this, mr. chairman. we are the health and is revered we are not the punishers, but we are the helpers. and frankly, if we do need is asked to hammer which sounds negative, sounds punitive, i believe these young men, and i believe the nfl for what has, america, war and the involvement of this congressional body, warrants a review whether it is legislation before us, whether it is a question of the antitrust issue, we are friends but we must save lives.
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these young people have so much to give america that we must do that now. mr. chairman, i count myself as part of a friend of this great sport. i am from texas, and boy, are we waited to you but we want our young people to be able to live in a good quality of life, comeback after the nfl and share their stories, fighting against youth violence and unforgiving in touch with both of your offices on this issue. you have been very kind. i yield back. >> thank you. the chair recognizes the distinguished gentleman from california. >> thank you, mr. chairman. let's not fool ourselves. football is controlled violence. that's the nature of the game. you don't have to play in nfl to get her. i have five knee surgeries and a new hip and everything and i didn't even play varsity at notre dame, for goodness sakes. but the question is is the violence controlled?
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teddy roosevelt saved the game of football at the beginning of the last century. when things such as the flying wedge were allowed and players died. and to the question was whether they were going to outlaw this game in the united states. teddy roosevelt brought the leaders of the universities to washington, d.c., without legislation, and said get your act together. so we don't always have to have legislation here. and i think his hearing does serve a very, very good purpose. i would like to just concentrate on two things. one is education and the others on the field of course there players have responsibility to be educated and to do the right thing. we had a cornerback for the redskins not too many years ago to head butted a wall before a game and gave himself a concussion. we see players headbutting one another in celebration today. that's just nuts. there is peer pressure that needs to be utilized, with
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information, that the commissioner's office and the owners and the players association can give to -- is not macho to be headbutting one another before the game for goodness sake. so education is extremely important, based on scientific information. i have no doubt about that. but part of that is the briefing went with the nfl on little bit earlier a couple days ago, i asked, do you have any control over your commentators, and the answer i got was no. but do you educate your commentators so that they don't make stupid statements about some other place on on the field, that will encourage that kind of conduct, maybe not by the players in the nfl but by the kids watching. but hopefully education for the
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players and the commissioner's office and the owners. the other thing is on the field enforcement. we have had changes in rules. i'm old enough to remember jack. i'm old enough to remember the cover story of sports illustrated when he was called the assassin. and we talked about trying to hit a play hard enough in the head that he hoped he would draw as he was lying there on the field. and nobody really spoke out against that in those days. that was considered if not the norm, that was the bar that you want to achieve and i know we have gone in a different direction since then but we need to go even further. tim tebow, probably the most famous college football today suffered a major concussion evidently. it sure looked like it, and he was playing the next week. i don't think that meant merril
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hoge is standard in seven days. i wonder what the stories, i know there were doctors that were involved, and i attended a game of my alma mater just two weeks ago and i saw a headhunter on the field. that tore a helmet off a player and he was left dazed. no penalty. the next week, that team played in the l.a. coliseum. that same player did the same thing to a guy i think from either oregon or oregon state. no penalty. he tore his helmet off. ease the second guy hitting him. two weeks in a row, nobility and what the pac-10 has just done is suspended the official or not calling a penalty. no penalty on the player. i realize that his college, not perl, but i would say that talking about that particular instance, mr. martin, what
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message would that send to the team or two players if two weeks in a row, i will take it away from that particular, two weeks in a row a player did something which really went after a defenseless player, and no call is made on that player two weeks in a row. what message does that deliver to the team and to the players? >> first of all, from my humble opinion, and thank you for the question, i think it's in the wrong message not only from the player himself but also the coaching staff and the institution which they both represent. i know the safeguards from a structured point of view in the nfl, those situations would not happen. but i think there has to be a point where the players themselves through education which i think is vitally important have to realize it is upon him to conduct themselves as part of that organization. that's what i found the old school and probably one of those who are from the yesterday's the
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spirit of the nfl because i've taken my responsibility of giving back to the community and my obligation to my teammates very sisley. i think that's one of the reasons i now had this post and i would like to see more of that self conscientious happened throughout all the sports. >> mr. heddell, i just had to say, when that play has been shown, the ones that i referred to, accounted almost always say and this person will be a first round draft choice of the nfl, because he is the kind of guy they are looking for. i just want to tell you, i know it's not your responsibility, but that message seeps down to kids, and kids see that and these are their heroes. and if that message gets out that that is allowed on the playing field, frankly, you will have more assassins out there and you'll have more kids for. and i don't think we consent to allow that to occur, with the knowledge we have now gained from the medical community,
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which we just didn't have before. just did not have before. so i hope i am taking in good faith would you have said and mr. smith have said, what the doctors have said here. i truly hope you will take this more seriously, because the tragedy of the nfl players that have suffered dementia is a tragedy for any player who has am a but i'm thinking about the kids coming up. and i hope you folks are genuine in what you are telling us here. >> thanks, dan lundgren. we have to judiciary suspension bills on the floor right now. which requires that we declare a recess lunch, etc. and we will resume after a series of votes. as early as we can. which will be about an hour?
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half-an-hour? probably 45 minutes to an hour. committee stands in recess. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> the chair recognizes the bill hunt, distinguished gentleman from massachusetts to continuing the discussion. >> i have made a note, and now i am fumbling for them. this has been a very informative hearing i thought i saw doctor
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canton, is he still with us? i take it he has left. maybe somebody on the panel can answer this question, and obviously it is a medical question. the term cte, and what i have read it has the information, the research done has come from a result of autopsies. is there a technology now that exists that allows for the diagnosis on determination of cte in a young male that is alive? i don't see anyone that knows the answer. >> i'm not qualified.
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>> everybody is looking at me. i'm not a neurosurgeon or a neuropathologist, so doctor mckee, doctor maroon, doctor morgan lander will be able to answer that better. the quick answer from my perspective as a team physician, no, it's not easy or simple to make a diagnosis of cte from an imaging study right now. certainly there are mri changes associated with dementia related diseases. but specifically to the question you asked, my answer would be no, but i would do for -- >> i understand there is a second panel, but the purpose of the question, i would say what concerns me, is obviously the league itself is the standard,
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in terms of where young people -- this hearing isn't just about the nfl. it goes beyond -- i think it was testimony earlier, i forget from whom, there's some 3 million participants in youth football today. presumably, that excludes the universe of young men that are playing in college and even playing at the high school. so what we have at risk here is a just players in the nfl, but thousands, hundreds of thousands of young males participating in football in this country. probably the most popular sport, because of the popularity of the nfl. and i guess my question is, if there were to be a technology
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that could serve as back up was a diagnostic test to determine whether cte was present in young people as they were playing the sport, it would serve as an early warning of a potential problem and inform those personnel who are coaches, who are athletic directors, that this young man should not be participating in a sport where there is the potential for a concussion. and in fact, diagnostic tools does not exist. it might be incumbent upon congress working with the administration to examine the feasibility providing funding through nih or through some other appropriate relevant agency, to do some real serious work to develop that.
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so that we don't have young people out there playing when they shouldn't be playing, and where i think as parents they could feel much more comfortab comfortable. because obviously the stories that have been related to the committee by this panel are truly, and as a parent and your testimony, ms. culverhouse, your affection for your player, that i'm sure you can say as part of your extended family, multiply your feelings times literally thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of parents, really demands an answer about this issue. is not just about the nfl. the nfl is here today because this committee has antitrust jurisdiction, but it is an issue
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i think working together to need to be responded to. but that was my main question. and why don't i conclude and yield back. >> this will be done in further, on the second panel. the distinguished gentleman from iowa, the ranking member of immigration, steve king. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank the witnesses for your testimony today. and one of the things that came out of it for me was to be in the same room with george martin and willie wood, and jim brown. to see you all on the same field because i didn't think i would see that. so i appreciate that and i want to remind folks here, just as i watched on saturday night, iowa-michigan state game there were two injuries that resulted in players being carried off the field and they both, to help contact. so it comes at a particular timely fashion.
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however, as i listened to the members of this committee to discuss this, and we've covered a lot of the territory, i noted that sheila jackson lee said she is concerned that owners need the right image, and her opposition who might be buying the saint louis rams, and her reason for that is the owners that might not have the right image pic she was anymore specific about that but we know who she is talking about and that is rush limbaugh. i would ask commissioner goodell this question. your position on orders having the right image, and i would direct it to your statement on the 13th of october what you said i think it is not what the nfl is all about. i would not want to see those kind of comments to people who are in response all positions within the nfl, no, actually not that i take it as a man of your word but i would point out that you have a couple of owners that have performed lyrics in songs that are far more offensive. in fact, i don't think anything
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that rush limbaugh said was offensive. but with berg in jail if j. lookahead between the two of them, a ledge that the cia are terrace and liars, they promoted sexual abuse of women. they have used the n-word, verbal pornography, recreational drug use, etc., and their owners of the dolphins. and i -- is also ironic that fergie was approved as an on on the very day you made your statement against rush limbaugh. i would point out for the statement that the state that rush limbaugh made is this, and that is i think what we have had here is a little social concern in the nfl, and he has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. they are interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well. mcnabb got a lot of credit for the performance of the team that he didn't deserve, closed quote. i have scoured this quote to try to find something that could be applied as racism on the part of rush limbaugh and i can't find. there is a case on the part of the media. that seems to be only quote that
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survives the story of jason checking back original sources and at least nine quotes that were a ledge to rush limbaugh. and by the way, of those eight are complete fabrications. they are not based on anything. they are not a misquote, they are not a distortion. they are a complete fabrication, and the one that remains stansted and shines the light against the media, not against rush limbaugh. so if you're concerned about this, mr. goodell, then i would ask you are you prepared to level the same charges against fergie and j. lo or are you prepared to apologize to rush limbaugh today? . .
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>> and, in fact, our teams have demonstrated that both on and off the field. nothing brings a team and a community together better than the nashville. testify nfl. >> were you considering the quotes that i was made or the one that i read to you and the one that doesn't shine a negative light on rush limbaugh but upon the media? >> i'm not shining any kind of light rush limbaugh. i would try to re-enforce to you what i said at the time. he was not an active consideration as an nfl owner. i stated this several times before that we had not started any kind of groups. he had not determined to sell the st. louis rams. >> you were speaking directly of
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rush limbaugh. you said the comments rush made specifically about donovan i disagree with very strongly. >> i do. because i think donovan mcnabb is an outstanding young man. he's an outstanding quarterback. it has nothing to do with the color of his skin. >> i'll just close with this. here are rush limbaugh's -- his position with 20 years in the radio. he says my racial views you mean you mean my belief in a colorblind society where every individual is treated as a precious human being without regard to his race. and i'll close with that, mr. goodell, and i'll ask you to take a look of the owner of the dolphins and the language in the public venues, the songs they recorded and review those lyrics and i'll provide those lyrics and i'll ask you to come back and respond to that question in the hearing whether you'll put the same scrutiny on those hearings that have shined a negative light on the nfl as opposed to somebody the nfl just doesn't agree with his politics. i yield back.
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>> the chair now turns to the gentleman from new york, mr. weiner -- oh, wait. oh. we'll defer -- we'll hold our member -- our only member whose athletic prowess was recently displayed just a few days ago. but i would now turn to mr. steve cohen, who is a subcommittee chairman and the gentleman from memphis, tennessee, is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and i thank the gentleman from new york. the game monday night that was
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here in the d.c., area that was a run -- runningback which had a grade 3 concussion. the coach has been reportedly said that he is, quote-unquote, counting on westbrook to be back on the field sunday against the jientsz. -- giants. from what i hear that doesn't necessarily sound like he's looking out for the most careful approach to mr. westbrook's concussion. mr. goodell, do you think coach reed's comments are appropriate. that he's counting on him which sounds like he's putting a burden on him to rise to the occasion to play after he had a concussion just six days later? >> as you say, i have not seen the quote. but i know coach reed. he's heard me repeatedly say at that these are medical decision. they must be made by medical professionals. my presumption would be that he has gotten medical advice of how he has responded to the injury.
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and that he is continuing to be under very strict and very careful medical attention. and the doctors have given him the indication that he should be able to play. >> let me ask you this because dr. culverhouse made clear that the doctors are the team's doctors. shouldn't -- i mean, they're counting on him. they've got to get three yards. it's first and goal. he's the guy. well, when he's 60 years old he might have not felt that he was good to be there on third and goal. shouldn't there be some independent doctor that makes a decision when you're going to play or possibly play six days after a grade 3 concussion? >> well, i would offer to you that i believe our doctors do not work for the coaches. they in many cases do not work for the team. they work for other institutions
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highly respected, well-known medical institutions. they are doing this as part of their either representation of that institution or they are doing this because this is in addition -- >> i'm sure they do and they've got a hypocratic oath but nevertheless somebody signs the checks and chooses from those firms who they are going to pick. and be sure the players are being looked after. don't you think it would be nice to have a panel where a player would have six days, or seven days limit. >> as long as it was made by medical professionals i would support it >> medical professionals, you know, kind of probably okayed muhammad ali to play larry holmes. he did it for the money. there's medical players in the ring and send the football player in the field. i just think you have to look after the players.
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dr. culverhouse -- i read about her last night on the "times" on the web. and she has a great love for her players. do you think a player like that should be sent into action with a doctor. >> no. thank you. absolutely, 100% not. no. there is no way. i've suffered a concussion. i have watched my players suffer concussions. i have talked to my players about their concussions and there is no way that that player should be back on the field within seven days of that kind of stage 3 hit. there's absolutely no way. >> do you think there could be a system where there could be a three-member group of physicians or just some independent doctor who could be created that could -- the ama would work with you or some -- or mayo -- >> absolutely. that's what i had mentioned earlier. that i think that if you have an independent neurologist -- and you only really need one per
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game because they would work for both teams as independent -- we grew up with marcus well by. -- wellby, we trusted our doctors and we trusted dr. wellby and these players go in the nfl and they trust their college doc. they trust their team doc. and then all of a sudden their team doc is shooting them up in the locker room before they go out to play so that they can make the score. so that they can block. and then at half time they're putting cuffs around their arm to iv them for the fluid loss. cuffs are not best medical practice for iving a player. the player is not being looked after by dr. marcus wellby. he's being looked after by a
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coach's ally whose goal to get the player back on the field and make that score. >> barbaro had an independent advisor did. >> yeah, i liked that horse. >> i did, too. mr. chairman, if i could ask one last question. where are the other owners? are there other owners that have the same feelings that you have about their players and have spoken out about these issues? >> not to my knowledge. i'm a rebel with a cause. not to my knowledge. you have to understand also that mr. goodell works at the pleasure of the owners so he's representing here every owner in the nfl because if he was not saying what they wanted him to say, he would be replaced. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> the claire is pleased to recognize judge gohmert of texas. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
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i do appreciate all the witnesses being here. your patience with us particularly and mr. smith, congratulations, on being the executive director of the nfl players. i know something about your background and i understood one of the benefits from someone of your prestige that does some lobbying was the contacts that you had had with congress. was there something in mind that you had and have that congress might do to help the nfl? >> the nfl players. >> oh, you don't want to help the nfl. you just want to help the players? >> no. >> 'cause i took it you would want to help the whole nfl. >> i think it's right to look at both, the nfl and the players. >> right. >> i think that holding this
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hearing today is both in this instance and historically one of this great body's major roles to shine not only the light that comes from asking tough questions of people who are brought before this committee but also serving in your role to bring it -- to bring it out to the public in general. so i think when congress asked tough questioned, when we're asked to come forward and present information, i think that's a good thing for the national football league. i know it's a good thing for the players in the national football league. >> when i say nfl, as an outsider, i always think of the players, everybody, owners, managers, coaches -- all of that within the nfl. that's what somebody like me sees when we see the nfl. so it is nice when you work better together than congress does. but dr. culverhouse, i really
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appreciate your compassion for the players and all. i'm curious, do you see congress needing to do something to step in and start telling owners and players in the nfl what they need to do? >> absolutely. you're the only body that can tell the nfl what to do. >> i see. okay. what if we decide we don't want you as an owner anymore? i mean, that kind of thing. >> fine with me. get somebody honest, straightforward and who cares about the players in their stead. >> what it finds in washington it seems to depend who's in office. currently, we know, for example, from the insurance industry that when the white house, our leaders in congress get upset with an industry and threaten them and say we may yank your
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antitrust exemption, that, you know, they're willing to retaliate and do something like that. so there is a message there. some of us think it's important to make sure that everybody plays fair and there's a level playing field. and then make sure that in the case of the nfl you've got the players and the owners who have a level playing field on which to meet and work things out for the benefit of the entire nfl. but when congress steps in, it seems like invariably we don't make things better. we create more problems. look at our track record. and, in fact, in view of the way things have gone here lately it, seems like perhaps the solution that some here in congress might come up with to fix the nfl would be to give people more choices. give them a federal public option. we know green bay has a city option. give them a public option where
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we start having government teams because i think if we had -- truly had some government-run teams that perhaps tampa bay, st. louis, tennessee would not be undefeated -- i mean, they -- they'd have some wins under their belt if we had some government teams right now. so they'd have somebody they could beat up on. but that's my concern. and mr. goodell, that is my concern. so often when we come in and weigh into an issue, sometimes we muck it up even worse. >> you know, i have more trust in you yet. >> well, you haven't been in congress obviously. >> hope springs eternal in my world. >> well, it springs eternal in mine and that's why i'm still here. but i still think the role of government is not to be a player by to be a referee and make sure everybody is playing fairly. and that's the only time that we should step in. but if we get too involved in
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the intricacies of the car dealers. i've dealt with so many people who said if i had known what you were going to do with our need by the time it got to the floor and got voted on, i would never have asked congress to do anything. so please keep that in mind when you ask for anything. it may come out as something you never dreamed that makes things whores but i appreciate all of your patience. i appreciate the pleasure that you brought to so many. we do want to make sure the people stay as healthy as possible in such a tough game. thank you very much. >> thank you, judge gohmert. the chair recognizes linda sanchez of california. >> i believe, mr. weiner, is ahead of me in line. >> two interceptions, plenty of respect. what are you talking about?
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i'm very delighted to recognize the starring player on representing the congress, mr. weiner, from new york. >> well, thank you, mr. chairman. and i want to recognize someone who -- someone who lived up to his storied family name. tom rooney who played a remarkable job as tight end and from time to time did that thankless job. and i want to thank you, mr. chairman, and ms. sanchez. i just want to establish for the record, commissioner, who's dr. irv cassen. >> do you mean ira can? -- cassen. >> isn't it a fact that the committee asked for his presence here today and he's an employee of yours; is that fair to say? i mean, do you sign some element of his paycheck?
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>> he's not an employee of the nfl. >> does he represent you? >> he represents the mtbi committee as cochair. >> as cochair. we asked him to participate in this hearing. he was unavailable and we asked for your help in having him appear here. can you just clarify the record. did you ask him to be here and he said no? >> i did not get involved in that, no. >> okay. if you could, while i'm asking my question, members of your staff can find that out. i also -- i think the record should show that beyond any work of any member of congress, even you, mr. chairman, you ms. sanchez, alan schwartz of the times has been driving this issue with some of the reporting and we probably wouldn't even be here today if it were not for some of the stories that he's written both at the college level and the pro level about this problem. in a recent expose that he published frankly went into the questions of credibility about
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the study that the league is currently undertaking. and basically three points of contentious emerged from his reporting. and the first is the notion that any of the nfl supported and funded research would lack a basic level of independence. that some of the statements that have been made on behalf of the nfl put a cloud over whatever research might show. a second concern that was raised by experts not associated with this debate but associated with just research is the relative paucity of subjects that are being studied for the purpose of trying to clear some of the dust around this issue and get down to the brass tacks which is what every member has discussed they want to do and the role of this dr. cassen who has taken some high profiled positions,
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poo-pooing some of the research that has done and driving a fairly hard line that, in fact, the -- saying -- going as far as to say and questioned and being dismissive that multiple concussions do lead to problems later on in life. wouldn't it be for the purpose of this conversation, getting back onto a more even keel -- i mean, we had a member of the nfl staff refer to the research that had come -- that reinforced dementia links as phantom. bad use of language. i think everyone would agree that shouldn't have been language that had been used. let me give you a context of this quote why i think this debate is not going in the right direction. i say phantom says joe brown an nfl spokesman 'cause we've not seen this analysis in our office. if it was done, it obviously was written for the nfl players union own self-promotion of lobbying purposes in
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anticipation of next week's congressional meeting. that's this one. allowing the public to have confidence in the end product and given that this has been characterized as a political issue between the players and the league and given that there are experts who can give sound advice on this, wouldn't it be perhaps most wise to put the brakes on the study that's going on, i guess, the 88 plan that has raised so many questions about its impartiality, whether it's got enough subjects, whether or not the people supervising it have not already formed opinions and just say let's try to err on the side of absolute impartiality by saying let's try to find someone separate and apart from this whole debate but someone who's good at this kind of stuff that both sides of the debate at this table and all sides of the debate in public can take a look at that information and say we have absolute confidence. because for those of us for whom this is -- this is a worker safety issue for a lot of us.
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i mean, putting aside whether or not we'd like your product and i do. this is a worker safety no different than someone was coming off a assembly line on a production plant and 20 years later they all had -- they all had arthritis in their right knee. we'd look at it the exact same way, i would think. so if you can -- if you can give me the answer to that question about why it might not be better for your own purposes to say, let's take this out of the existing structure where so many questions have been raised about it and do something truly independent. stop this where it is. something truly independent, something that the league, congress, and everyone agrees is independent and start from scratch to try to get this right. >> well, the answer to your question is that we want you to have confidence in the studies. that's one of the reasons for the 15 years that we've been involved in this issue. we have published every piece of data that we'd ever done. we had published it publicly. we have given it to medical
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journals and it's peer review. so i think, you know, when you talk about dr. cassen and others, we don't control those doctors. they are medical professionals. they are scientists. they do this for a living. they look at these issues independently. they draw conclusions from that. we have obviously -- >> let me interrupt you. are you confident of that today as we sit here that dr. cassen is an independent viewer of this given the independent statements he's made. >> independent of what. of my views? >> independent of this -- of a position here. it seems to me that he arrives at this debate with certain notions. i mean, look the nfl has said research has not shown any connection to long term problems to nfl players. i mean, obviously -- i mean, today i doubt you would say multiple concussions don't create long-term problems today knowing what you do now. the question is, the confidence in this report has been seriously undermind. you read mr. schwartz reporting.
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he went around academics and physicians and they asked him a couple of questions and they said in these important areas already today before a single bit -- well, i shouldn't say that. at this early stage of the research, there are already so many questions. why continue going down this path. why not try to address the structural problems and the research? you know, that we don't have the classic garbage in, garbage out not to be too harsh and not to question anyone. just the appearance is clearly that this research is stacked and is lacking in credibility. and it's also clear that the parties involved have developed -- i mean, i think you would agree with this. have developed a sense of loggerheads about this issue that i don't think serve most of the public. i mean, most members of the public are not partisans for the players or the union we basically want to get this policy right and try to make sure that people are protected. so wouldn't it be better to start -- get a fresh start with a fresh report?
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>> well, we want congress, we want the medical community, we want everyone involved to have confidence in the work that's being done and that's why we have medical professionals involved. that's why we put it up for peer review and why they choose that. if this committee believes there are ways we can improve it and making it independent in some fashion i would be happy to work with the committee to do that. we want you to have confidence. we have led the way. many people have taken our research and used it including -- it was mentioned earlier this morning the department of defense. that we have met with them and shared our research. >> well, i appreciate your willingness to assess this as we go along. and did you find out an answer to the question whether a member of your staff made any effort to secure dr. cassen for this committee? >> i'm just reading it to you. our office was not asked to help get dr. cassen to testify.
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>> i'm pleased to recognize judge ted poe of texas. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i thank all y'all for being here all day and your testimony. as the chairman mentioned i'm from texas. and when you talk about football, we believe we're the best, you know? i have two favorite college teams, university of texas and anybody that plays oklahoma. my brother-in-law played for the new york giants for five years. everybody plays football. wants to, i think. my son started 9 years of age and went all the way through college and played college ball and never missed a football game. football as all y'all know is something that we do. and this -- this report and your testimony about this report is,
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i think, important for us to be aware of injuries that can occur. but i'm really not clear as to what congress ought to be doing involved in professional football. i mean, if congress gets involved it would seem to me it would be the end of football as we know it. we would all be playing touch football out there on these football fields, whether it's pros or college or high school or pee wee league. people know when you play football there is a chance that you're going to get hurt. parents know that, players know that. and all of y'all know it better than anybody. my question really is, what do you want congress to do about the information that all of y'all have testified about and the report? what is it that you want us to do? commissioner?
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i'll start with you on this end if you don't mind. >> congressman, as i stated in my opening remarks, we are not waiting to see where the medical research goes. we are taking steps now to improve our game, prevent injuries, make sure when injuries do occur, that they are treated properly, conservatively and safely. and that we are caring for our athletes. we have to do a better job of that. we must continue to push this research. i think the exposure and the issue that is raising this as a public health issue and the debate that goes on within the medical community is healthy. because it does put on a spotlight to something that can affect millions of people. alzheimer's itself is of projected to be affecting over 100 million people in the very foreseeable future on a global basis.
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this is a significant issue. so we want to be part of the solution. we want to be able to share our data, share our information. and continue to make progress in this area that will affect thousands of people that are not playing football. that are playing other sports or may not be involved in sports. if our data can be helpful to that, we would like to be part of that. >> well, i understand what you've said. and the research has been carried -- passed on not only to other sports but to the health professionals as well the research that has been done. but that really doesn't answer my question. what do you want congress to do? do you want more research funds from congress to the private sector? >> with all due respect i was asked to come here so i'm not asking congress to do anything. >> well, that might be a first. but let's just go on down the row if we've got time. mr. smith, thank you. >> yes, sir. i think two things.

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